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Dubai has most botnet infections in Middle East

New report finds the city has the most number of compromised computers in region

Dubai can now add a title of a different kind to its name – it’s just been recognised as the city with the most botnets in the Middle East by security specialists Symantec.

A botnet refers to compromised computers that can be controlled and used to send spam or viruses to others computers without the user’s knowledge.

Symantec’s latest Internet Security Threat Report (ISTR) found that the Middle East had 644,126 distinct bot-infected computers in 2008, with an average of 5743 bots observed every single day during the year.

Dubai accounted for a whole 6% alone, making it the worst affected city in the region.

Interestingly, the report revealed that while most attacks on the EMEA region originated from the United States, Dubai was also responsible for a large proportion. In fact, the UAE moved up from its 43rd position last year to become the 10th top country responsible for originating attacks in 2008.

“This increase may simply be due to significant broadband expansions that have occurred there recently. Broadband subscriptions in the UAE have risen by nearly 900 percent in the last four years,” the report states.

Saudi Arabia also had the highest number of potential worm infections for the whole EMEA region, which is a significant change from its previous rank of thirteen. Johnny Karam, regional director for Symantec MENA, attributed this rise to the high penetration of DSL in the country in addition to the widespread infection of the ‘mabezat’ worm, which experts believe was created in the Kingdom itself.

While the report highlighted a significant rise in global internet threats with the EMEA region particularly affected, it’s also shown that the Middle Eastern landscape is changing as well.

“The Middle East used to be seen as a victim but now they’ve become the ones creating the worms,” stated Bulentz Teksoz, manager of systems engineering at Symantec MENA.

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